A proposed high-speed passenger train that would run between the Twin Cities and Duluth will make a stop in Superior if it ever gets on track, the Duluth News Tribune reports.
The goal is to get the route — called the Northern Lights Express — up and running by 2012 or 2013, but there is still much wrangling ahead on cost estimates and ridership projections, the paper said:
Consultants working on the environmental study have selected Duluth as the northern terminus, and the first southern destination will be Superior, and not along the Munger Trail to Carlton, said Bob Manzoline of the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority. The route then will cross back into Minnesota and through Hinckley to the southern terminus of Minneapolis.
“This will be the preferred route and recommended route to the [Federal Railroad Administration] for the project, so we got over that hump,” said Manzoline, who still is wrangling with the Minnesota Department of Transportation on cost and ridership estimates.
(NLX officials say the train will cost about $600 million, but MnDOT says a high estimate could reach $1 billion. Similar discrepancies exist on ridership projections.)
Some wanted the train to skip the Wisconsin swing, which would knock about 10 minutes off the estimated travel time of two hours and eight minutes.
But consultants said it’s more cost-effective to double track along the existing BNSF Railway route than to build new tracks along the Munger Trail, which is currently only used as a recreational path, the paper reported.
Also, the Superior stop could garner support from Wisconsin politicians, including from Dave Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.